Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The End, Abruptly

It’s time for this blog to die. In the next few weeks, I’ll be packing up as my husband and I prepare for an unexpected move back to New York. (New job, nothing bad.) And although I’m sad to be leaving London, I am also happy to be returning. A few things I’ll miss: the smell of Cornish pasties in the subway, the architecture lit up along the river at night, tiny green parks that pop up where you least expect them, the vast array of Indian ingredients available at regular grocery stores, and heated towel racks.

This will be my last blog post here, but if you’re interested, head over to snyppet to see what I’ve got planned next.

And thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Random Atmospheric Photo

Flower box on St. Thomas Street, outside of London Bridge Station. London Bridge itself is having an anniversary this Saturday with a “fayre” featuring “activities and entertainment designed to give a flavour of life at the time of the Bridge’s opening 800 years ago.”

Monday, July 6, 2009

Neighborhood Find: Del’Aziz

As they say on their website, Del’Aziz is “a delicatessen, bakery, brasserie and gift shop offering an array of products, from freshly baked breads to pastries, olive oil and vinegars, chocolate and confectionary,” and the list goes on. It’s also a restaurant, where you can have a full meal or just a snack (that’s my carrot cake below, which was unorthodox—no cream cheese frosting and not many carrots—but tasty, shown with a gigantic cappuccino and a small one).

And the sign out front promises cocktails and belly dancing. So this is, needless to say, a welcome addition to what was once our up-and-coming neighborhood of Bermondsey but is now pretty well established as a rather fashionable place (or so it seems to me). I also bought a bag of taralli (to which I am addicted) and was tempted to buy some fruit preserves and jasmine tea pearls. But there’s plenty of time for that, I figure. Because I plan to make this a regular stop in the neighborhood.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Time for Humor

I’ve seen these Mr Jones watches only online, but I love the way they display (in addition to the time) a distinctly British sense of humor. I especially like the Accurate model and the Mantra.
      And here are some thoughts from Ricky Gervais about the differences between American (optimistic) and British (pessimistic) humor. And here’s what Simon Pegg thinks about how irony works in the two countries.
      Whatever it is, British humor (humour) is one of the best things about living in the UK.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Random London Photo

A display of minimal kids’ building blocks yesterday in the Muji store on Tottenham Court Road. (And I noticed their porcelain incense holder in the shape of Battersea Power Station is now on sale. It makes me smile every time to think of tiny wisps of smoke coming out of those tiny chimneys. Get it while it’s hot and while you're here: the power station doesn’t appear to be available in the US store.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Restaurant Recommendation: The Park Terrace

Take advantage of London’s first-ever official heat wave and head over to the casual (but elegant) Park Terrace restaurant on the ground floor of the Mandarin Oriental. Outdoors and enclosed by green hedges and with a view of the trees across the street in Hyde Park, this small patio restaurant offers up a small menu of tasty items, such as poached salmon, Thai green curry, or a platter of beef carpaccio (friends who ate this said it was great). It did look nice. I, however, started with a selection of sashimi sprinkled with jalapenos before moving on to a slab of miso-marinated black cod.

Both of my dishes were good, but were they as eye-openingly good as the original preparations, which, I think, come from Nobu in New York? No. I did, however, sample a lovely summery British wine that I’d never had before: the Chapel Downs Bacchus, made in Kent. Give it a go. Perfect for a night outside in the heat.

(There are also these summertime cocktails from restaurants in New York that sound pretty good. Coconut martini: yes!)

See more reviews at
Park Terrace on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

City Map Gift Wrap

Take a look at this stash of wrapping paper printed with vintage maps of London, New York, Paris, and a scattering of other cities. There must be a ton of things you could do with this paper (such as create a travel journal—or wrap a gift, maybe).

And if you’re really handy with paper manipulation, check out these instructions (from pop-up master Robert Sabuda) for constructing your own pop-up cards. I love the reindeer head for Christmas.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mini Guide to Bruges

Stay at the Kempinski Hotel Dukes' Palace, which is a modern and luxurious hotel in a converted and restored small palace and centrally located (but everything is centrally located in this tiny tourist town).

Eat at The Chocolate Line. This is just a chocolate store, but the variety and flavors are supposedly the best around. (Our hotel concierge confirmed it.) The basil, tomato, and olive truffles taste like mozzarella salad. The wasabi ones are green and tingling. The lemongrass is addictive.

Visit Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child at the Church of Our Lady. A rare example of Michelangelo’s work that exists outside of Italy, I read on the information card. It was lovely. The freaky Basilica of the Holy Blood was more interesting, architecturally.

Overall, I found Bruges a little too cutesy and tourist tacky. The architecture is charming but repetitive. Not a lot of cutting-edge Belgian design or interesting artwork going on here (though I desperately tried to find this artist’s studio, after reading about it in my Time Out guide, but couldn’t locate it). A friend told us, before we went, to go to Ghent instead—but we didn’t.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Blog on a Break

On the train to Bruges. (One of the many reasons why poets take trains: “poets are notoriously bad drivers.”) Back next week.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thinking about Shopping

It’s time for the summer sales in London. But I have to say I’m not that excited by the prospect of everyone descending on stores at once and scrambling for bargains. I prefer the American way: the casual (and constant) browsing of the clearance racks and the daily shopping that can occur, at a moment’s notice, by popping in to your favorite place just to see what’s on sale. (While being aware, of course, of the hazards of overconsumption and the problems of sustainability.)
      The last time I went into Banana Republic here on Regent Street, I felt oddly dissatisfied because there was no discounted section at the back with last month’s merchandise. Everything was full price. I bought nothing. (Living in the UK has made me much less of a consumer. Maybe the US should try this method? But decreasing consumption is probably not what the retailers have in mind, in either country.)
      And I noticed while on Regent Street that Anthropologie will be opening up nearby, in the fall. Maybe I'll visit when the winter sales start.